Stormy Petrels or Angry Penguins

Mary Jewels was described as a stormy petrel which reminded me of the Angry Penguins which Arthur Boyd and John Perceval (painters of cornfields from the Blog yesterday) were both part of.

As some of my subscribers are young and some are from outside Australia I thought it would be interesting to introduce this group who had substantial influence on Australian art.

Angry Penguins was an avant-garde movement of the 1940s in Australia. The origins are found in the establishment of a magazine of that name but it was the artists who belonged who have made the name famous. The greats- Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, John Perceval, Joy Hester and Danila Vassilieff were all members.

These artists fought to change the established, conventional culture of the time and were, in terms of painting styles, exponents of surrealism and expressionism. The magazine's principal editor Max Harris (who founded the magazine at 18 years old!!) came under the patronage of John and Sunday Reed who started the art colony in their home at Heide which is now the Heide Museum of Modern Art (Bulleen, Melbourne).

So let's have a look at their work, an early example and a later painting so we can see the development of their style. We will start with Danila Vassilieff, who is relatively unknown compared to the other painters in the group, but is in fact considered to be the father of Australian modernism.

And now Joy Hester, the only female Angry Penguin who used brush and ink which meant that her work received little attention against the popular oil paintings. She was only 40 when she died in 1960.
This painting The Lovers was done about 2 years before she died.

And Albert Tucker who was Joy Hester's first husband.
However, Tucker also painted realistically in later life.
I love Tucker and if you want to check out more of his paintings here is a link.

You saw the John Perceval painting of cornfields. Not particularly inspiring. Similarly his Carlton Street lacks vibrancy.
But then he produced in the 1950s his famous Williamstown series.

And let's finish with our beloved Sidney Nolan who needs no introduction. I have avoided using his famous Ned Kelly series. The first is from his Wimmera series painted in the 1940s.
And a later landscape.
For extra viewing check out Nolan at:

Why Angry Penguins? The name came from a poem written by Max Harris and the artists who associated with the movement became known by this nomenclature.
"We know no mithridatum of despair as drunks, the angry penguins of the night,
straddling the cobbles of the square
tying a shoelace by fogged lamplight.”

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Subscribe to Anne Newman Artist

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

or subscribe via RSS with Feedly!